ORIGINALLY POSTED - September 3, 2021

UPDATED - September 15, 2021

Summary of Niagara Catholic Vaccination Attestations

In compliance with the Ministry of Education, Niagara Catholic shares this information about staff vaccinations with the community.

 School Board Employees & TrusteesOther Individuals
#%#%
Total number of individuals to which the policy will apply3431100.00%84100.00%
Total number of individuals who have attested to being fully vaccinated (with and without supporting documentation)264477.06%7994.05%
Total number of individuals who provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated40.12%00.00%
The number of individuals who have not yet submitted an attestation form, if known56616.50%00.00%

 

The new school year is almost here! It won’t be long until September 7 arrives, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students and staff back to school. Our parent portal is now open, and parents will be able to learn classroom assignments there. Please follow these instructions to set up your password for first-time users, or reset your password if necessary. A link to our support site is also available in the document for those who have trouble.

On September 3, we sent a message to families outlining details about mandatory active screening for students for the first two weeks of school. The screening platform can be accessed through the main page of this website, by clicking on the self-assessment slide. Parents will use their Maplewood login to access the mandatory screening. The information noted above for accessing the parent portal will assist you with accessing Maplewood, if necessary.

Please note that Niagara Region Public Health has provided us with updated information about the safe reopening of our elementary schools on August 30. These recommendations are more restrictive measures than ones required by the Ministry of Education, and mean some aspects of life in our elementary schools will change, at least as we begin the school year.  The areas in bold reflect the changes and apply only to our Catholic elementary schools.

Of course, COVID-19 is still very much a part of our lives, and we are committed to ensuring that our Niagara Catholic schools and sites are clean and safe places for our students and staff to work and to learn. We know that last year was challenging. We’re using our experience from the past 18 months to provide a year with more stability, more in-person learning and the safe return to extracurriculars and other activities that bring our schools to life.

Your family is an important part of our Niagara Catholic family. We know this year isn’t going to be fully what we’re used to, and there will likely be bumps in the road here and there, but we want you to know that we remain fully committed to ensuring that this school year is a positive experience for everyone, and that includes parents! Thank you for your trust in us, and for your understanding that we may have to make a few course corrections along the way. But our focus remains on being positive and excited that we will all be able to work, learn, play, and grow in faith together again.

While many of us have been down this road already, for parents whose children are just starting school, or are new to Niagara Catholic, we encourage you to review this plan and to check out our FAQs to understand more about how schools will run during the 2021-2022 school year. This will help you with some of the commonly asked questions over the summer and will help you understand our plans for the coming school year.

This is a "living document," which guides our COVID leads, Senior Staff and school principals and vice-principals on how we will ensure the safe operation of schools in the year ahead. It is based on the Ontario government’s COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022) document; and will be updated as necessary; and is available for all parents, guardians, Niagara Catholic school board supporters and stakeholders in Catholic education to review.

 

School Reopening and Safety Guide 2021-2022

Operational Protocols and Procedures

After a year filled with lockdowns and school closures, we are all looking forward to a year that is more like what we are used to. Some things will change, while others will stay the same, including:

In-Person Learning or Remote Learning

  • Both options are available to students this year
  • Secondary students submitted intentions in June for September
  • Elementary families submitted final intentions in August
  • Elementary students attending remotely will be assigned to the Niagara Catholic Virtual Elementary School
  • Secondary students attending remotely will be assigned to a class with their home school and will participate in hybrid learning
  • Cohorts are not required at the secondary level
  • Students participating in remote learning are not required to wear dress code (elementary) or uniforms (secondary) but must wear clothes consistent with what is acceptable at school on an out of uniform/dress code day
  • Requests to move between streams for extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • Parents must speak with their child’s principal to make a request to move between streams
  • We will continue to limit the number of visitors inside our schools and sites to prevent the transmission of viruses
  • Following the current practice, all visitors to the school will be required to sign in and provide contact information for contact tracing, if necessary
  • There is no transition date for students to move between streams, if necessary

Key dates

  • September 7 – First day of school
  • No staggered entry for in-person students
  • No staggered entry date for virtual students

Elementary Learning

  • Students will remain with their cohort for the in-person portion of the school day
  • Itinerant French and Arts teachers and chaplaincy leaders are permitted to visit schools and classrooms to provide full programming to students
  • Special Education staff (ABAs, Speech-Language Pathologists) will return to seeing students in-person
  • Cohorts are required outside

Secondary Learning

  • Students will participate in two courses at a time during Semester One
  • Niagara Catholic quadmester model will offer two classes per day

Keeping Schools Safe

Screening

  • The Ministry of Education requires active screening for all elementary and secondary students from September 7-17. Confirmation of screening for staff and visitors will continue beyond this time.  Anyone who fails the self-assessment may not come to school or work
  • Anyone feeling generally unwell, not necessarily related to COVID, should stay at home until their symptoms resolve
  • Updated signs will be provided to all schools to be placed on the main entrance doors, which include the updated self-assessment questions.
  • Active screening may become a requirement provincially, in a broader region or in a localized municipality or community. In this case, Niagara Catholic will provide students and staff with an appropriate active screening tool

Masks - Students

  • Masks remain mandatory for all students in Grades 1-12 working or attending school in-person while indoors
  • Masks are to be worn outdoors by all elementary students and staff when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Masks are encouraged for students in kindergarten but are not required
  • Students are expected to bring their own masks to school and a sealable container for safe storage
  • Non-medical, three-ply masks will be available at schools for students if needed
  • Students are required to wear a properly-fitting, non-medical or cloth masks in school and on school vehicles
  • When they can be worn safely, masks are encouraged during indoor physical education
  • Masking is required when playing high or low-contact activities both indoors and outdoors when they can be worn safely (based on the activity), when cohorts are mixed (outdoors - this is strongly discouraged by Niagara Region Public Health) or when physical distancing cannot be maintained - this applies to elementary school students and staff
  • Masks may be removed indoors for students to eat or drink
  • Reasonable exceptions to the mask requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis by principals. The Niagara Catholic Non-Medical or Cloth Exemption Form for Students has been distributed to principals, who will distribute it upon parental request

Masks and PPE - Staff

  • Staff are expected to wear a Board-issued medical mask and a shield or goggles when unable to maintain a safe physical distance from students, based on their specific role or job functions (e.g. gloves, gowns)
  • PPE will continue to be provided to staff when there is a risk of exposure due to close physical contact
  • All masks and PPE made available to staff is sourced by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and the government’s pandemic supply chain
  • Staff (elementary) are required to wear masks outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Reasonable exceptions to the mask requirement will be made for staff
  • PPE (medical masks, face shields/googles) is required for staff who work with students who are not wearing masks.
  • Eye protection is not required for working with students wearing masks
  • Masks with clear sections may be appropriate for special education staff to use when working with students who are deaf/hard of hearing
  • N95 respirators (fit tested) are to be worn by staff who perform an Aerosol Generating Medical Procedure (AGMP) or are in a room while one is being performed. They are not approved for use by staff for any other purpose

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Frequent hand washing and cough and sneeze etiquette play important roles in helping stop the spread of viruses in schools
  • Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective method to keep hands germ-free
  • Alcohol-based hand rub works most effectively when hands are not visibly dirty
  • Signage will be placed in classrooms and washrooms reminding students to wash their hands, particularly before/after eating and after using the washroom
  • Signs will assist students in ensuring they wash hands properly (handwashing signs from Niagara Region Public Health) and offer tips and tricks to help ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms for students to access as required, provided by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the government’s pandemic supply chain
  • Students will be encouraged to wash/sanitize their hands regularly throughout the day
  • Tissues and lined, no-touch wastebaskets will be available for students to discard used tissues

Physical Distancing

  • Students and staff must do their best to maintain a safe, physical distance from each other while indoors at school
  • All unnecessary furniture will remain out of classrooms this year to allow for maximum spacing between desks
  • Special consideration for physical distancing will be considered for shared workspaces (such as lab tables or in technology classrooms)
  • Schools will maintain their existing plans to ensure limited contact between cohorts at arrival/dismissal time and at lunch and recess (different doors, staggered timing)
  • Students will remain with cohorts indoors, but do not need to stay within their cohorts outdoors (secondary). Physical distancing between cohorts will be encouraged

Signage

  • Floor decals and other signage will be provided to schools to guide traffic flow. Schools will receive new floor markers this year to replace damaged ones
  • New signs will be provided for hallways and washrooms focused on handwashing and physical distancing
  • New exterior door signs will be provided for visitors to schools with updated self-assessment questions, based on provincial guidance
  • COVID leads will ensure schools have supplies of relevant signage such as donning and doffing PPE and safe disposal of used PPE

Inclement Weather/Extreme Heat

Niagara Catholic will work with Niagara Region Public Health to develop a plan to address a pivot to remote learning on inclement weather or days when an extreme heat advisory is in effect

Cleaning and Disinfecting Standards and Protocols

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow all provincially mandated cleaning protocols
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow the cleaning program in place in the 2020-2021 school year, which includes cleaning high-touch surfaces a minimum of twice a day, and frequent cleaning of common areas such as washrooms
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work in alignment with Niagara Region Public Health to ensure cleaning protocols are performed as expected
  • We will continue to use cleaning materials in our schools that are approved by Health Canada for hard-surface cleaning

Shared Materials

Shared materials will be permitted. Staff should remind students of the importance of hand hygiene after using shared materials, particularly when shared materials cannot regularly be cleaned

Nutrition Programs

  • Breakfast Clubs/snack programs are permitted this year - we will begin this year with grab-and-go snacks in elementary
  • Pizza days/other special lunch days are also permitted this year

Water Fountains/Hydration Stations

  • Water fountains will remain closed this year
  • Students may fill up refillable water bottles at hydration stations

Shared Spaces

  • Homerooms, libraries, computer/technology labs, lockers and cubbies are permitted
  • Staff rooms are permitted - limit capacity and consider assigned seating and spaces between seats to allow for physical distancing - elementary
  • Hand-washing/sanitizing is recommended when in or leaving shared spaces
  • Public Health requires schools to track who is in places like libraries (entry/exit logs) and to limit the number of people inside shared spaces to ensure physical distancing requirements can be met - elementary

Assemblies

  • Assemblies and other student or school gatherings (Mass) are permitted in secondary schools following the Reopening Ontario Act
  • Niagara Region Public Health guidance allows for only outdoor assemblies at the elementary level, with two metres between each individual - schools have been advised to replace assemblies with classroom visits until further notice
  • Multiple cohorts are permitted, in alignment with provincial capacity limits (secondary only), with appropriate space within cohorts and two metres between cohorts

Visitors

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to limit the number of non-essential visitors to schools
  • Parents will drop off/pick up students outside, including when students have been in self-isolation after feeling ill at school
  •  Parents may enter the building to drop off/retrieve items for students using a designated table inside the doorway or foyer
  • Essential visitors to schools must complete an active self-assessment before entering, and wear masks while indoor
  • Frequent visitors to schools will be required to submit an attestation of vaccination to Niagara Catholic 

Transportation

  • Masks are required on all buses for students in Grades 1-12 and the driver
  • Students will have assigned seating again this year for contact tracing
  • Enhanced cleaning will be provided between runs
  • Depending on the number of students returning to in-person learning, Niagara Student Transportation Services advises that it may be challenging to physically distance students
  • Please visit nsts.ca for more information

Ventilation

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to optimize air quality in all schools and classrooms using provincial and federal funding
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to comply with all Ministry expectations regarding mechanical ventilation systems
  • Ventilation systems in all schools and sites are being checked to ensure they are in good working order
  • Ventilation systems will be regularly inspected throughout the school year
  • All kindergarten classes will have stand-alone HEPA air filtration systems, in addition to any mechanical ventilation systems in operation at schools
  • Classrooms and any learning spaces without alternate ventilation will also receive stand-alone HEPA air filtration systems

Vaccination

  • Niagara Catholic will follow Ministry of Education requirements regarding vaccinations for all staff
  • All Niagara Catholic staff are required to complete their vaccination attestation by September 7, 2021
  • Niagara Catholic will create a document outlining expectations for all Niagara Catholic staff
  • Niagara Catholic will comply with Ministry directives to provide transparency to our community regarding the percentage of our staff who have been vaccinated
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work with Niagara Region Public Health to promote vaccinations for students aged 11 to 17 by hosting in-school clinics

Mental Health and Student Supports

Student mental health and well-being are a key priority for the coming year. Niagara Catholic’s Mental Health and Wellness Team will continue to support students facing mental health challenges as we return to school to help them learn and succeed in school and in life.

  • Social Workers will provide in-person mental health and therapy supports at the school level. If virtual supports are requested, this will also be facilitated through the school
  • Child and Youth Workers will provide classroom-based promotion and prevention programming in identified classrooms on their identified schedules
  • The Mental Health Lead will provide in-person support to schools for family consultations about mental health treatment, community threat assessments and grief responses
  • External mental health services and supports that are offering in-person support, will also provide these services in-person in our schools. (Mental Health and Addiction Nurses, Pathstone Mental Health, Niagara Region Public Health and Community Addiction Services of Niagara)
  • Community partners will provide approved mental health programming or presentations in the schools

Academic Programs

Cooperative Education

  • In-person cooperative education placements can be arranged, provided the arrangements comply with the Reopening Ontario Act and are supported by Niagara Region Public Health
  • Virtual placements will be considered when in-person placements are not possible
  • Modifications will be made if circumstances change

Music

  • Music programs are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation
  • Singing and the use of wind instruments will be permitted indoors, with the following conditions (secondary)
    • Wind instruments may be played indoors within a single cohort when students can remain two metres apart. Large, well-ventilated rooms are best for this activity
    • Wind instruments may be used outdoors with mixed cohorts, with distancing measures in place
    • If shared, wind instruments must be properly sanitized between each use
    • Masks are encouraged but not necessary while singing indoors, if students remain two metres apart and as much distance as possible is placed between cohorts

For elementary, the updated Public Health recommendations are below:

  • "Use of wind instruments is permitted indoors within a cohort if a minimum of three metres or more can be maintained. As much distance as possible should be encouraged and use of large, well-ventilated spaces should be prioritized.”
  • “Use of wind instruments is permitted outdoors when a minimum distance of two metres or more can be maintained.”
  • “Public Health permits singing indoors provided a three-metre distance can be maintained, but the recommendation does not state whether it is between individuals or cohorts. Masking is encouraged, but not required for singing indoors.”

Health and Physical Education

  • The use of gymnasiums, swimming pools, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor P.E. equipment are permitted with safe physical distancing
  • High and low-contact activities are permitted both indoors and outdoors (secondary)
  • Masks are not required when playing high or low-impact activities outdoors (secondary)
  • Masking is encouraged for indoor sports when they can be worn safely, based on the activity
  • Windows should be opened whenever possible to increase ventilation
  • See Masks - students (above) for masking requirements for Physical Education for elementary students
  • Elementary sports will not commence until at least September 20 to allow staff to assess if it is safe to do so

Field Trips

  • Day trips and overnight stays are permitted according to the appropriate requirements in the Reopening Ontario Act
  • Field trips will not take place at the elementary level to begin the year - this will be reassessed based on Public Health guidance and conditions
  • Students are to be in cohorts during the trip
  • Appropriate tracking for contract tracing will be in place
  • Arrival and departure time will be staggered to support cohorts and physical distancing

EQAO

  • Grade 3 and 6 assessments will resume in a new digital format
  • Grade 9 students will write the Grade 9 math digital adaptive assessment and the assessment may count towards up to 10 percent of a student’s final grade
  • EQAO assessments must be done in person at the school
  • Students enrolled in remote learning may choose to participate in EQAO assessments in person, as permitted by the Board and with all safety guidelines in place

Literacy and Community Involvement Graduation Requirements

  • The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) requirement is waived for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year
  • It will resume for students graduating in June 2023
  • Students in Grades 10 and 11, non-graduating students and remote learners are required to work towards the graduation requirement by participating in the OSSLT or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC)
  • The number of Christian Community Service hours required for graduates in 2022 has been reduced from 40 to 20
  • Greater flexibility in how students earn their hours will be permitted this school year
  • The requirement for 40 hours will resume in September 2022

Adult and Continuing Education

  • Niagara Catholic will offer flexibility in delivery options for Adult/Continuing Education programs and Indigenous Education

Faith

  • All students will continue to be supported on their faith journey in 2021-2022
  • In accordance with the Ministry guidance, assemblies may take place, meaning Mass can take place at school (secondary only - elementary may walk to parishes for Mass, if able, subject to capacity limits for churches in Stage 3 of Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen)
  • Parish priests will be able to return to schools in September for visits and celebrations
  • Chaplains will return to schools in September 2021
  • Retreats (secondary) will take place in accordance with guidelines at the time of the scheduled event

Extracurriculars and Community Use of Schools

Clubs - Secondary

Clubs, activities, sports, bands and other extracurricular activities are permitted. Cohorts may interact outdoors with physical distancing encouraged, and indoors with masks and appropriate physical distancing

Inter-School Sports - Secondary

  • All inter-school sports are to follow the Physical Education guidelines, including:
    • High and low-contact activities are permitted both indoors and outdoors
    • Masks are not required when playing high or low-impact activities outdoors
    • Masking is encouraged for indoor sports when they can be worn safely, based on the activity
  • At this time, we are planning to resume outdoor inter-school sports for elementary students, potentially during the third week of September, based on conditions at that time. There are no plans at this time for indoor sports at the elementary level, based on Public Health guidelines for mixing cohorts and masking

Before and After-School Programs

Community Use of Schools

  • Community Use of Schools is currently under review, based on Niagara Region Public Health guidance

COVID-19 Management in Schools

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work diligently to ensure our schools are safe for our students and staff.
  • Niagara Catholic has three Board COVID leads who will support school administrators and staff, Senior Staff and trustees for the coming year
  • The COVID-19 for Administrators Guide, developed in 2020, has been updated for the 2021-2022 school year and shared with all school principals, vice-principals, Family of Schools Superintendents and their administrative assistants and other relevant staff as required
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow Niagara Region Public Health guidance and requirements regarding case confirmations, contact tracing and self-isolation
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow best practices for advising school communities of a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to publicly report cases through a link on our website at a scheduled time each day
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to report cases daily through the online reporting tool
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow the outbreak protocols in place by Niagara Region Public Health

Management of Cases in Schools

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow its established practice regarding isolating a student when they feel ill at school in a safe room until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian
  • Names of all individuals in contact with the person will be provided to Niagara Region Public Health
  • Niagara Catholic will comply with all Ministry of Education and Niagara Regional Public Health requirements regarding self-isolation (recognizing differences for individuals who are vaccinated and asymptomatic and unvaccinated/partially vaccinated individuals)

 

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